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Should Puppy Training Include Dog Tricks?

By Edited May 7, 2014 0 1

Potty Training Puppies Should Began Early

Should Puppy Training Include Dog Tricks?

Puppy training should include advanced areas such as training to stop puppy biting and other obedience training for dogs that prepare the dog to live and react with humans. No one appreciates a bad temperated or bad mannered dog. There is usually not much debate

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or disagreement on this issue.

However there always seems to be some disagreement on whether puppy training should include what are commonly referred to as dog tricks. Is it wasted energy or demeaning to the puppy for example when you spend time and effort learning how to teach a dog to roll over. Is this merely a trick we wish the dog to learn to add to our amusement or does it serve some practical purpose.

There are those who feel deeply that these dog tricks are demeaning to the animal an do not serve any useful purpose. I would like to discuss this topic at some length. I need to mention that I have no professional education or training in obedience training for dogs. Rather I will offer my thoughts based on years of dog ownership of both working dogs and simple family pets.

I also spent many years as a police officer working closely with trained police dogs. Those years gave me a real education on the intelligence of many dogs. From dogs trained to locate hidden narcotics and explosives to the special training needed for those trained to find fugitives hiding in buildings or crowd control it was hard to miss the companionship between handlers and animals.

Puppy Training Is Much Like Raising A Toddler

For those who feel that teaching a puppy or dog simple tricks to be demeaning or insulting to the animal I would ask them to consider that almost all domesticated dogs were once expected to earn their keep. From herding sheep and cattle to locating and retrieving wild birds such as pheasants and ducks, these dogs were prized companions.

Companion is the important word here. I feel that there is no closer relationship between a human and a dog then the unspoken working agreement between the two. A good hunting dog seems to be happiest when he can return home from a day of working through wet underbrush or swimming in ice cold water retrieving the birds shot by their owner. These dogs usually seemed more content and enjoyable around humans than dogs that are asked to absolutely nothing all day except to stay out of the way. The skills need to perform this work began with proper puppy training.

I was given a gangly young German short haired pointer once because it's owner felt the dog was useless. Taken to the open field the dog would take off on it's own course and run wild hundreds of yards ahead of me raising birds far out of gunshot range. He was the laughing stock of my hunting buddies. But after a month or two of training him on a 50 foot leash so he understood that he needed to work in close he was always welcomed on our hunting trips.

We developed a close working relationship. I realize that much of what I felt I saw in him was probably just my imagination or pride in his ability. Many times he would go on point at a brush pile indicating that he knew there was a bird in there. I would stomp around the pile trying to rise any birds hiding there and after a few minutes I would have to pull him off point chastising him for being mistaken.

It was always at that exact moment than a pheasant would take flight from within the pile and I swear I would see a look on the dogs face that put me to shame. The "I'm doing my job whats your problem partner" look. I swear I saw that same look anytime he flushed a bird and I missed the shot. But at the end of the day he always seemed to be so happy that he was able to do what he was breed to do.

Compare this with so many family pets that are left for hours to their own devices in a small yard. They develop habits of digging holes or destroying prised bushes or doing other damage. These dogs are not receiving the companionship or the opportunity to work for or earn their living.

Are Dog Tricks Really A Bad Pat Of Puppy Training?

So is it a bad idea for puppy training to include dog tricks? Consider for a moment how we teach our young children. How often do we strive to encourage the child to began to talk. Saying something that resembles "Mama" or "Grandpa" brings joy to the parent. But do they really have any idea what this means or are they merely sounds at this age? We spend hours encouraging them to crawl, take their first step or to eat with a spoon. When they can lay by themselves and drink from their bottle we consider this a major achievement.

These may not be considered tricks but learning experiences. We are pushing the child to make use of the talents he or she was born with and attempting to develop them at an early age. Certainly potty training is necessary. Actually a child raised in an unkempt environment or
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without proper training would be content to spend many years in diapers.

So it is with any puppy. Although most dogs have a natural tendency to not soil or do their business in the place where they sleep they would be content to treat your beautiful carpet as just another neighbors yard if not given proper training. Some of this early training is needed to teach the puppy about social graces so he can adapt to the environment us humans prefer.

But what then? Unless the dog is a working dog such as a hunter, police or guard dog, how does he earn his keep. More importantly how does he feel like he is contributing. Being left to simple chores such as barking at the mailman once a day and possibly chewing up the newspaper how does he spend his time?

With these thoughts in mind is it really such a bad thing to teach our four footed family members a few tricks. These are intelligent animals and just as humans who do not actively improve their minds, these dogs left to be less than they can be.

If you really care for your pet and spend time with him do you not notice the contentment or happiness that shows when he can please you. Retrieving a thrown ball or Frisbee, barking on command, rolling over and playing dead and other stunts that at first glance seem shoddy but may in fact be giving your dog a purpose.

Just as some humans that live a simple life. They are content to play catch with a friend. Or wander through the woods with no real intent other than enjoying each others company. So it is with a dog owner who really loves and appreciates the companionship of a well trained dog.

As you began your puppy training why not try to test your new friends intelligence and willingness to please and offer him the chance to do so by teaching him a few tricks. Not to demean him or to show him off as some kind of carnival side show but to allow him to have the chance to show you what he can do and takes joy in doing. After all just as with humans not all dogs will be able to earn their living as working animals. But that does not mean they are not anxious to please.


Sep 29, 2011 11:13am
The bottom line is that dogs want to please us. Teaching them a trick or two as well as other commands is a great idea.
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